Tutorial: Mail Merge in Photoshop? Even better there's Data Merge.

Uploaded by sterlingteaches on 03.07.2012

if you have ever used mail merge customize your letters to customers
you're going to love data merge
inside of adobe photoshop
this is like Mail merge on steroids it allows you to create custom designs for
your clients based on data that you have.
This video demonstrates the basics of customizing your photoshop designs
based on data.
Here are six easy steps to follow.
Number one create your design in photoshop
number two organize and label your layers
number three
define variables inside of photoshop
number four
create your data file
and csv party txt file
export data files
number five and number six
process your images into other formats
so let's go ahead and get started
first of all you need to create your design inside of photoshop as you can see
here I've created a simple design
showing the flashlight illuminating the person's name
as well as an imprint of the person's name on the flashlight the letter on the
document also includes the
person's name as well as a customized website address so they can go to for
this website
now the purpose of this is to attract somebody's attention
when I receive mail and it has my name not just on the letterhead but
scattered throughout the design
I'm more inclined to open it to read it to find interest in it
and so that's the hope that the design like this
that the reader will look at the mail
and they'll say wait let me check this out it has my name on it its more
and they might take a more serious and maybe spend more money with your company
so with that I have a simple design here
I have this broken up into a couple of layers first I have background picture
you can see an image there
I have changed the hew of this flashlight
from blue purple
and I have the salutation set up right here separately
and I have the name on the pen
Where we are going to put a design of the name there
and right here I have the name coming out of the flashlight with a glow
added to it
and there's a custom website built here as well
now what I want to do is I want to create hundreds of designs
with this exact same design
but I want to change
the text to be the person's name who's receiving this
I've also done a survey
and I have data that indicates some of my
potential customers
prefer blue to purple
and so I have two different options they can either get a blue
mailer with a blue
company local or they can get a purple one based on the
data that we have received
so let me show you how to do this
we've created our design inside a photoshop
we've organized our design
by labeling all of our layers

and labeling them something sample so that we can remember

now what we need to do is define variables inside a photoshop
to do this
you go up to the image
click on variables
and then choose define
this is going to bring up a dialog box
this dialog box right here shows us the layers
this actually corresponds to all of the layers
that I have set up
in my layers panel
I'm going to define the web layer
and I'm going to replace it
I am going to click text replacement because I want to change this with
text from my data
and I'm going to give it a name of web
now when you choose
these names
don't use funky characters like slashes or exclamation points

I like to keep it simple I use all lower case
because it is case sensitive when you replace the text
so what I do is I'm doing
all lower case this allows me too
have fewer mistakes in the long run
no spaces
there are some characters you can use such as a dash of our hyphen
but I prefer to keep it simple all lower case with no spaces
so now
there's an asterisk here
this indicates that this layer has some sort of variable defined
let's go ahead define the other parables as well
we're gonna go ahead text replace that one
we will call it name
pretty simple easy enough to remember
and let's move onto the next one
name pen
now for this one
I'm gonna change it and the name is going to be the exact same again so I am going to
click on text replacement
I am going to call it came again
Now when I do this
sometimes a comes up with error saying that you already have that
but that's okay if it does
it we'll tell me on the side here if I have...
Here's the error
the variable name "name" is already in use do you want to use this and yes I want to
use it
and now it shows me that it's being used in more than one place
I'm gonna go salutation
and again I want to replace it with the variable that is going to be called name

now when I move on to the next one hue and saturation
again it comes up with the same error
and it shows me
which other variables are
where name is also being used on the other layers
so it's being used on those three but that's fine because that's how my
design is
I'm going to move on to hue and saturation
now this one is a little bit different
notice that doesn't say text replacement that's because it's smart enough to
realize that hue and saturation
is not text
it's just a new effect applied to
to this layer
so what I want to do
is change the visibility
I want this to be either be on or off
let's say my data has indicated whether somebody
wants purple
or a blue
or maybe has a preference of their color choice
so I can go ahead and change the visibility
to turn on or off
my hue and saturation layer to change the color of my design
and I'm gonna go ahead and change this variable

to be something a little bit more simple such as color
and let's move onto the next one
the last one pictured that's the background picture I'm not going to change anything
if you do have designs for you do want to change pictures
when you have a picture if you can choose pixel replacement and
you can change it to another picture
to do that you simply save all the pictures that you want to replace inside
the same folder as this photoshop file
I'm going to ignore that one for right now
so what we have just done is defined all of our variables.

Each layer
is a variable or can change based on the data that we have
I'm going to now show you
if we switch this to data sets
it's going to allow me to connect this to some data
I'm actually going to hit ok
just wanted to show you can get it from here as well
but i'm gonna head okay
you can also access this
by going to image / variables / data sets

and it takes you to the same spot
now you could come here and you could type in each of the data sets
by simply clicking here and typeing each one
but let's say I have hundreds or thousands of clients and I want to have
to type in each one and choose each variable
instead I want to create
a data file that has all of this information
so I'm going to use
precreated data.
here and it's in a text file a txt file
you can either have a csv or a txt file saved
you can create your file inside of
Excel, maybe you download all the data that you have and you can go
through and clean it up inside of excel and in here you can see I have three
different fields or

labels I have name, web
color so what I'm going to do is I'm going to insert the name
insert this web address
and insert the color
now notice how it says true or false
all this is telling us
is whether this is visible
or not visible
that's all the true or false is saying
I'm going to go ahead and import that data so I click on import
and I'm going to select the file
and I have my file right here
if your file is not shown
it may be looking for a text file and maybe your file of the csv file
you may not have saved as a t x t or csv file
you can change or toggle between a text file or a csv file here
mine is a text file so I will click that
I click on load
and now I'm gonna go ahead and choose automatic
and it says replace existing data sets I don't have any data sets but I'm gonna
keep it there
I don't want to use
first column for data set names because mine was not set up
that way so I am going to hit ok
now when I do that
you may not have seen it but photoshop started doing something funky back here
it toggled between a couple of datasets

and I can see here this is populated
with the different
data that
I've created into here and
it calls a dataset one I could rename this if I like but I'm going to
keep it as it is right now
I'm going to click dataset number two
and notice how toggles between my original and my new one and it's updated
everything here the color of the flashlight the color of the logo has changed
the text has changed
I can continue on
checking all of my datasets
and again I can see it looks like it's correct
and I can go through all my data sets now if I have a hundred, two hundred,
or a thousand different

datasets I may not go through each one
but maybe I can go through the first couple just to make sure that everything
is working correctly
if it is working correctly and everything looks fine
I'm gonna simply hit okay
now it goes back to normal it looks like nothing has been done

this is because it has the information stored but we need to
create the files now
to create the files from this
simply go to up to file
data sets as files
now we have to do the previous steps or this won't work
it'll be greyed out
so if it's greyed out that means you missed one of the previous steps and you might go back

make sure that you defined and set up data sets
when you set up
your data set sometimes an error comes up I'll talk about that at the end
so let's go ahead an export these we've go up to file
and down to export
we now export data sets as files
and what this allows you to do is

export all the files that you've created
you can choose where you going do it
you can choose which data sets maybe there are specific ones you wanted to
I'm gonna choose all because
just makes more sense do all
and I want to call this custom mailer
now I can add in different
extensions that I want to include here
I'm just going to call a custom mailer data set and give it a number that way
it's unique
we can save it with a capital or lower case dot psd
you can make it
compatible with the mac or unix
I'm just gonna keep mine set right now as windows
so now I have all my settings selected i simply click ok
and it runs through
and it's going to run it's actually creating each of these files that
I have wanted to to mail out to all of the individuals
and it takes photoshop a few minutes to run through everything but it does a lot
faster than me having to go in and change each of the designs myself
now that it's done
I can go to that folder and I can find
all those photoshop images
and I can see
that it's actually created these photoshop image is right here
but what I want to do
is turn these all into

jpegs maybe I'm gonna put these on the web or somewhere different
or maybe the printer needs them to be a tiff
so now what I want to do is go to file
go down to scripts
image processor
and I'm gonna selected folder
and I'm going to choose the type of file I would like to save it as I'm going to
save it as a jpg
quality set to ten
and I'm gonna go ahead and run this
and making sure that it stays in the same location
and what photoshop is doing is opening up each up each of the files and is converting
it to a jpeg
so that we can use that image
so if you have a long list of a hundred thousand names this may take but
its good time to get up take a break stretch a little bit come back to your
let the computer do all the work
when it's done
you can then go and check
your document. it creates a folder for you called jpegs
and i'm gonna open up our custom mailer and see

so now I can go through and I can see
that my custom mailer has automatically changed the person's name throughout
to the different variables
the web address
the purple flashlight I can click through
and I can see that
the pictures changed again
the names of changed the pictures changed
the color, etc.
so this is a way that you can create custom designs to really draw the
attention of your client or your customers
without having to create an individual product for each person
now this is a basic example of what you can do by changing one color or by
changing in a few words you can get a lot more in depth by changing more pictures
maybe I have surveyed indicates twenty different colors that they like
or maybe we include pictures of things related to their interests or maybe even
change the entire design based on some of the data that we have
so this is some of the potential and power
using data merge inside of photoshop
my recommendation is to start with simple designs and work up from there
one thing I mentioned earlier is that when you're doing your designs you may
come up with some errors let me just demonstrate real quick one of the errors
that is very common when you're doing data merge in photoshop
let me open up our datamerge file

so one thing that happens let's say that I have gone through
and I have defined my variables
and i'm going to go ahead and define (I'm just going to do one right now to demonstrate the error)
texture placement let's say I called this "internet"
I'm going to go ahead and hit ok
Let me define my variables
variables data sets
let me import that same dataset
now if i go ahead and choose it
comes up with this error
could not parse the file contents as a data set there are too many variable
names in the first line of text file
what does that mean exactly it's kind of confusing at first when you get the error.
You may think, "what's going on"
the error is basically saying
that you have these three different data sets
and they don't match what you have here so that's something that's a little bit
different than when you do mail merge we do know merge maybe you have
more data fields than you need and you only use the ones that you need in
photoshop you can't have more were less than what you need you have to have the
same amount so what that means is wherever you define a
variable inside of
your documents you have to have the exact variables if you don't have these
variables or if the variable is off even by
a different capitalization of the letter
you may get that error so it's a little bit finicky just make sure that
you name everything clearly and that all your names match with your
variables they don't have any spelling errors between a variable name and
your dataset and by doing that you're gonna have much more success and your
going to be able to build designs that are going to draw the attention of your
client's much more
good luck and enjoy designing